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Byline: John Miller and Jerry Berrios

Staff Writers

Even as flames scorched scorch  
v. scorched, scorch·ing, scorch·es
1. To burn superficially so as to discolor or damage the texture of. See Synonyms at burn1.

 the area just days after Thanksgiving, Latigo Canyon resident Fern Lea Peter found much to be thankful for.

Peter's Latigo Canyon home, with a sweeping view of the Pacific, was saved by firefighters' quick action.

The 76-year-old said she awoke at 3 a.m. and found her wooden deck engulfed in flames In Flames is a melodic death metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden founded in 1990. Along with Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates, they pioneered what is now known as melodic death metal. , but firefighters were soon on the scene.

"I have been here 48 years and have never seen a fire like this," she said. "I grabbed my purse and my pillow -- it's what I like to sleep with. At that point, you're not thinking. You're absolutely out of it.

"The Fire Department came, and I said, 'Please save my house."'

After the fire had passed, Peter acknowledged the loss of a portion of her home but was optimistic op·ti·mist  
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.

2. A believer in philosophical optimism.


"But I had Thanksgiving before, and I have my home -- and that's a nice thing."

At a Malibu mobile home park on Pacific Coast Highway Pacific Coast Highway may refer to:
  • Pacific Coast Highway (United States), a segment of State Route 1 in California
  • Pacific Coast Highway (New Zealand), a 420 kilometre highway http://www.newzealand.
, a woman who gave her name only as Cynthia mourned the loss of her greenery, but praised firefighters for saving her mobile home, three dogs and six cats.

"I lost my backyard, my beautiful English garden The term English garden or English park (French: Jardin anglais, Italian: Giardino all'inglese, German: Englischer Landschaftspark  ... but I've got my house," she said.

When she went back inside, after watching the home next door burn, she found a message: "Saved." It was signed "Long Beach Fire Department."

She sought out the firefighters to thank them and opened her arms to the crew's chief.

"He said, 'You don't want to hug me.' I said, 'You bet your butt I want to hug you.' And I hugged every one of them."

In Latigo Canyon, fire crews and water trucks waited patiently for Southern California Edison Southern California Edison (or SCE Corp), the largest subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX), is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. It provides 11 million people with electricity.  crews to clear downed power lines from the narrow roads.

Rick Hernandez, 50, of Agoura Hills had come to help rescue two horses on his friend's property in the canyon.

At midday, Hernandez waited his turn to move his horse trailer A horse trailer or horse van (also called a horse float in Australia and New Zealand) is used to transport horses. There are many several different designs, ranging in size from small units capable of holding two or three horses, able to be pulled by a pickup truck  up to his friend's home.

He said an official told him: "If you're going to evacuate e·vac·u·ate
1. To empty or remove the contents of.

2. To excrete or discharge waste matter, especially of the bowels.
 horses, I'll let you go up, but you may not get very far."

Malibu City Councilman Ken Kearsley, who had weathered earlier firestorms, said he refused to evacuate because he had cleared a wide area around his home, which is along a creek.

"You figure what your life is worth," Kearsley said. "It's not worth a house. I got the car out and was ready to go. I figured if it got to my trees, I was outta here. But it never did."

Kearsley said he beat back embers em·ber  
1. A small, glowing piece of coal or wood, as in a dying fire.

2. embers The smoldering coal or ash of a dying fire.
 flying through the air from the main fire.

"You fight it," he said. "You're out with buckets, and you're out with hoses, and you're out with burlap bags, and you fight it."

As she stood on the beach side of Pacific Coast Highway, Wendy Kappas knew her home was gone because she could see the retaining wall built behind it.

She and her husband, Michael, had been building their Tantalus Drive home for three years.

"We just put the roof on this week," she said. The doors and windows Doors and Windows is a multimedia disk by the Irish band The Cranberries. Track listing
  1. "Dreams Live" (London Astoria)
  2. "So Cold In Ireland"
  3. "Away"
  4. "I Don't Need"
  5. "Zombie" (Live Woodstock)
 were to be installed in two weeks. The couple planned to move into the house in February or March. Now they will start all over again.

"You have to do it," she said. "It is an absolutely gorgeous property."

She heard from a neighbor that her guest house, also under construction, survived. The couple will stay at their Malibu condo until they rebuild.

The condo itself burned in a 1998 electrical fire and the couple rebuilt it.

"Maybe we aren't supposed to be here," Kappas said halfheartedly. "Maybe someone is trying to tell us something."

Deborah Congdon-Abrams, a 53-year-old mortgage broker, lives next to Kappas and said she woke about 4 a.m. to the smell of smoke in her Sycamore Meadows Drive home.

She told her husband, Harold Abrams, to pack a suitcase while she grabbed financial records and photos.

Congdon-Abrams is no stranger to wildfires. She lost everything -- including her children's scrapbooks, her great-grandmother's rag doll and her grandmother's jewelry box -- in a 1993 Laguna Beach Laguna Beach (ləg`nə), city (1990 pop. 23,170), Orange co., S Calif., on the Pacific coast; founded 1887, inc. 1927.  fire.

"You have your life," she said. "Everything else is replaceable."

The important thing is that her husband and their two Briard Briard (brēärd`), breed of muscular, wiry working dog whose origins may be traced back to 12th-century France. It stands from 22 to 27 in. (55.9–68.6 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 70 and 80 lb (31.8–36.3 kg).  dogs, Dudley and Nikki, are fine, she said.

At first, she was anxious about her home after a neighbor who stayed at his home told her that her garage had been damaged.

But from where she stood on Pacific Coast Highway, once the smoke cleared, she could see her home's red tile roof and it had survived.

"Wow, look at that!" she exclaimed, watching helicopters dump water in the neighborhood.

Tamara Noland and her 13-year-old daughter, Mathilda, woke about 3:30 a.m. to sounds of sirens on Corral corral

a small fenced-in enclosure with high, wooden fences, suitable for holding cattle or horses.

corral system
a management system in which range cattle are put into corrals and fed hay for a period when the environment is most
 Canyon Road, not far from where the fire started.

"When you hear two or three (sirens), you think it's a car accident," Noland said. "When you hear six, seven, eight, then it's a fire."

Noland said she and her daughter took nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

"We just knew we had to get out of here fast," she said. "And look at the shape of our house -- obviously, we did have to get out of there."

Fire ate its way through half of their rented, single-story house. The Nolands will spend the night with friends, then return today to try to sift through the smoldering smol·der also smoul·der  
intr.v. smol·dered, smol·der·ing, smol·ders
1. To burn with little smoke and no flame.


Sea Breeze sea breeze
A cool breeze blowing from the sea toward the land.

sea breeze

a breeze blowing inland from the sea

Noun 1.
 Drive in Corral Canyon was among the hardest-hit areas, with at least a dozen homes destroyed. But residents of the canyon community were well-prepared for fire.

Victor Calandra, 48, used an industrial fire hose connected to a hydrant across the street to extinguish Extinguish

Retire or pay off debt.
 the smoky remains of his neighbor's home to the left while firefighters mopped up the home to his right.

Calandra's own home survived.

"I feel pretty lucky," he said.

Across the street, neighbor Derek Tabak saved his house from fire for the fifth time.

"This is number five, much to my dismay," he said, with eyes red from the smoke. "I have stayed here each time and always kept it from burning down. But this was the worst. We've never lost a house in this area."

Still, Tabak plans to stay put in Malibu.

"This is a great place to live," he said.

Across the way, part of the Long Beach Fire Department, Engine One company, mopped up. Firefighter Jose Salazar spent the entire day on the street, spraying homes already engulfed and fighting off flames from dozens of others.

Most of the residents had evacuated before Salazar and 20 other firefighters arrived around 6:30 a.m. As Calandra lent a hand, the worn-out crew admired his work.

"We found some cats and a mule mule, in zoology
mule, hybrid offspring of a male donkey (see ass) and a female horse, bred as a work animal. The name is also sometimes applied to the hinny, the offspring of a male horse and female donkey; hinnies are considered inferior to mules.
 down there behind the home," Salazar said. "We just said 'Hi' to (the mule) and let it go on its way."
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 25, 2007

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